Rich didn’t exist where she was from. You were either trash, wearing never washed hand-downs, or lucky enough to have someone buy you new scratchy clothes from the dollar store. She didn’t lay eyes on a department store until she was eight, a year after the system combed through her trailer park, plucking up kids and sending them all over the state.
Designer anything only lived in the torn pages of magazines set in the corner of social workers’ offices, worn and peddled by the sleek women who pouted out from the glossy ads. It was a talent, she thought, to look so unhappy draped in breezy cloth that cost more than six months trailer rent.
Her clothes came and went, changing as she passed from home to home. At ten she wore never touched t-shirts from some forgotten choir, boxy, stiff, and donated by a church. At eleven, she developed a fondness for lace amidst thrift store racks and learned to ignore the smell of the elderly that clung to heavy thread. Twelve was spent in the ill-fitting jeans and oversized sweatshirts the group home managed to guilt out of the community.
With big eyes, dark hair, and spindly limbs from formative malnutrition, she looked like a doll. And in each foster family or group home, she was dressed like one, in the bits and pieces no one wanted for themselves.
It wasn’t until she was thirteen, that a new foster family handed her sixty dollars and dropped her off at the mall. She returned with a jean skirt, black boots that made her feet look bigger than they were, and a soft lavender sweater with a hood that wouldn’t fit over her hair. She laid them out over the bedspread that wasn’t hers either and reminded herself not to become attached.
As part of our ongoing Music Challenge series, Raw Ramble‘s challenged me to write something to or inspired by Hollis Brown’s cover of Oh Sweet Nuthin’.